Another member of the NFL’s most feared defense over the past decade is gone.
The Seattle Seahawks announced Friday they have released former Pro Bowl defensive end Cliff Avril after he failed a physical.
Avril, 32, joined the Seahawks in 2013 and was a fixture on the great defenses the team has had since then. From 2013-2016, the Seahawks defense was ranked in the top five each year.
In 2013 and 2014, Seattle had the league’s top-ranked defense. They were second in 2015 and fifth in 2016.
Last year, racked by injuries to Avril, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor, among others, the defense fell off significantly.
With Sherman waived and picked up by the 49ers, defensive end Michael Bennett traded to the Eagles, safety Earl Thomas on the trading block and Chancellor’s status uncertain due to a neck injury suffered last season, the once-great defense is no more.
Avril logged 34.5 sacks with the Seahawks and has 74 in his 10-year career. He played the first five seasons of his career with the Lions.
On Friday, the day of his release, Avril said thanks to the Seahawks coaches, players and fans in an article for The Player’s Tribune.
“For now, as my time as a Seahawk comes to an end, I really just want to show my gratitude. To Coach Carroll, John Schneider and Paul Allen: Thank you. I appreciate everything you did for me, but more than anything, I appreciate the opportunity you gave me,” Avril wrote.
“To all the other coaches, trainers and people behind the scenes that I got to interact with — especially Mo Kelly in player development, who always believed in me and helped guide me: I appreciate you, too. Thank you,” he added.
He then went on to thank several of his teammates by name.
“Mike B. (Michael Bennett): We came to Seattle together, and now, we’re leaving together. I’m proud of what we did there, and I love you for always having my back no matter what. And if anybody ever doubts your loyalty, you just tell ’em to go talk to Johnny Hekker,” he wrote.
“Sherm (Richard Sherman), Bobby (Wagner), Earl (Thomas), Kam (Chancellor), KJ (Wright): You guys pushed me to strive for greatness every single day because you were great. When I came to Seattle and saw the kind of talent you guys had, I took it as a challenge to prove to you that I could contribute to the best defense in football. You motivated me. I became the player I was because of you. You gave me the opportunity to win a Super Bowl. You helped get me to the Pro Bowl. You took me to the promised land. I love you guys for that.”
“And last but most definitely not least … The 12s,” he concluded, referring to Seattle’s enthusiastic fans.
Among Seahawks fans, the feeling is mutual.
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